What is Autism?

Autism is a highly variable neurodevelopmental disorder that first appears during infancy or childhood, and generally follows a steady course without remission. 

People with autism may be severely impaired in some respects but normal, or even superior, in others.  Overt symptoms gradually begin after the age of six months, become established by age two or three years, and tend to continue through adulthood, although often in more muted form.  It is distinguished not by a single symptom, but by a characteristic triad of symptoms: impairments in social interaction; impairments in communication; and restricted interests and repetitive behavior.  Other aspects, such as atypical eating, are also common but are not essential for diagnosis.

Autism's individual symptoms occur in the general population and appear not to associate highly, without a sharp line separating pathologically severe from common traits

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